While I was visiting Long Island, I was able to go back to La Bonne Boulangerie. I got two things from there this time. One was the chocolate rugelach, which was still very good. The other was a Chocolate Yogurt Loaf Cake. That was also good. Two days later and it still tastes good. This is a yogurt cake with a chocolate streusel swirl and a crumb topping.
The cake itself is massive. When you slice into it, you are able to see the nice swirl of chocolate streusel in there and the layer of crumb topping.
There were three main elements that I focused on while I was eating this. The first was the cake layer. The cake was very moist, not too dense. A good pound cake consistency. The next part was the streusel layer. This did not have a heavy chocolate flavor to it. The chocolate was barely noticeable, but the overall flavor was good. The consistency worked well with the cake layer. The last part was the crumb topping. I’ve enjoyed this bakery’s crumb topping on other treats, and this is no different. There wasn’t a thick layer that took away from the flavor of the cake. And the crumb topping wasn’t a hard crumb topping that hurts your teeth when biting into it. This actually worked really well when combining with the cake and the streusel.
When I ordered this chocolate yogurt cake, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought I would like it based on previous good experiences, but I wasn’t sure if it was something I would order again. This definitely is worth a repeat, when there are a lot more people to share it with.
I look forward to my next visit to Long Island my next stop at La Bonne Boulangerie in East Norwich. I might get the same thing, or I might try to enjoy something new. A happy stomach helps me keep positive thoughts. Stay positive!
Sometimes timing can work out, so I took the opportunity to travel again for a few days up to Long Island. On the drive up, I was looking at the trees that were to my right. There were some nice shades of green, a couple of yellows and oranges, but reds and browns were sparse. It was still nice to see the scenery of the drive.
I made a stop at the Grover Cleveland Service Area on the New Jersey Turnpike. I decided to order something that I’ve had a few times at this stop, the Gobbler Sandwich. This was purchased at reFresh & Co. The sandwich has gridlled bread, gridlled turkey, stuffing, gravy, and a cranberry aioli. The standouts of this sandwich are the stuffing and gravy. The bread is gridlled, which is the only thing I’m not enthusiastic about. Heating the bread on a griddle makes it greasier than if it were toasted. The bread is thinly sliced, so the butter that was put on the griddle makes the bread a bit soggy. The flavor is good, but the texture was not of my liking. I’ll still get the sandwich again, because the overall flavor is really good.
When I was on Long Island, I was able to get a couple of good meals. I had a gyro from Greek Cove in East Norwich. This has very large portions, so I was able to share about half of the gyro meat and still had a huge sandwich. The pita bread and tzatziki are both really good. The red onions have a nice crispness to them and add good flavor. The seasoning on the gyro also added to the traditional flavors. There are two good Greek places nearby – this one and It’s Greek To Me in Syosset. They both bring back fond memories of living in Greece when I was younger.
I also had the opportunity to go to La Bonne Boulangerie again, but I’ll write a separate post about that. I also had a slice of white pizza and a pepperoni pinwheel from Mario’s in Oyster Bay. The white pizza has a nice combination of flavors with the Romano, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses.
When I drove back down from Long Island, I was able to look at the trees on my right (opposite side of when I drove up). There was more color on this side. There were the multiple shades of green, yellows, orange, some yellowish-orange, some vibrant browns and some dashes of red. If I wasn’t driving on the Turnpike, I would have stopped to take some pictures. Very nice scenery. My playlist was going, so I had some good music as well. I was very happy when “Sir Duke” started playing. Good sing along music, as well as the dancing while driving which was probably a sad spectacle to see.
There were a couple of stops on the way down. I stopped at the Thomas Edison Travel Plaza and got a brownie bite from Pret a Manger again. Still as good as ever. I also stopped at Chesapeake House in Maryland. I once again went to Earl of Sandwich. I asked about the Holiday Sandwich, but they don’t have that one yet. They let me know it will come the end of October or early November and will be there through the beginning of the year. I’ll have some opportunities to get it, so I’m not worried. I was going to ask for the Original 1762, but the words that came out of my mouth were The Full Montagu. I probably ordered it since I got the Original the last time. I’ve had The Full Montagu before, so I know it’s good. Roast beef, turkey, swiss, cheddar, lettuce, tomato and mustard sauce. The sandwich was still good. The roast beef was easy to bite through and the combination of flavors with the turkey and the cheeses were perfect. The bread had a nice flavor, texture and bite through. The mustard sauce brings it all together. I kept the tomatoes in for the picture, but took some of them out while eating (not always my thing).
I still consider myself fortunate to be able to travel and to eat at all these places. Some of these places are repeats – but that’s just because they are good. I’m also grateful that I’m able to visit with and spend time with my family. It helps bring out the positives.
I happened to notice that the specialty crepe at French Twist Cafe was the French Toast Crepe. I’ve had this before and enjoyed it, so I wanted to have it again while it was still available. It was delicious, as was the pumpkin frappe that I ordered.
The French Twist Cafe has a small shop on the first floor, and you are able to watch as the employees make your coffee drinks or your crepes. The crepe making process is always fun to watch, but today it was even better.
I enjoy when someone is very structured in their processes, whether it’s putting items on a shelf, doing a training, making food, or anything else. The person making the crepe was very structured and focused on their job, which I enjoyed watching. There is a poetry to the way the food was made, and it was a captivating poem to watch.
They started out be putting the batter on the crepe griddle and using the batter spreader for even distribution. Once this was done, they waited until the bottom was a nice brown and then they flipped the crepe over.
Next, they cracked two eggs on top of the crepe. They then started lightly spreading the eggs all around. The best way for me to describe this is as a light scramble. Not to get the eggs fluffed, but to combine the yolk and whites to add a nice layer on top of the crepe. Once this was complete, the cinnamon sugar mixture was swirled on top of the eggs. A swirl of maple syrup was next, but before that, the employee made a slight adjustment to make sure everything looked good. This is something that is going to be on the inside of the crepe and not visible to the person eating the food, but it’s something that makes me really appreciate how much someone truly enjoys what they are doing. To me, it is artistic to consider the aesthetics of something being done in the middle of the process, even if it won’t be seen or viewed in the final product. It’s an attention to detail during the creation of the food that makes me appreciate it even more. Once the swirl of maple syrup was put on, the crepe was folded in half.
After about 10 seconds (just my guess), the crepe was ready to be folded into thirds. Powdered sugar went on top, then a maple syrup drizzle, followed up with three dollops of whipped cream on the side. It was a beautiful piece of work, which I hope you can see in my first photo. But more importantly, the crepe was delicious. The combination of the eggs, cinnamon sugar, and maple syrup truly gave this a French toast flavor to the tastebuds. And adding in just a little bit of whipped cream on some of the bites gave it a tinge more sweetness, which worked really well with the cinnamon.
The crepes and the coffee drinks at French Twist Cafe continue to make me go back for more. The employees who work there give it a family feel, and their care and dedication in everything they do makes for an even better experience.
This was definitely a great way to start the morning. Stay Positive!
Since Autumn/Fall has arrived, I hope for there to be an increase in rain activity. Not just because it reminds me of the B.J. Thomas song – written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, but because it reminds me of the smell of rain.
I spent a large chunk of my early years on the East Coast. We had plenty of rain and I never thought too much of it. I enjoyed it at times and was annoyed by it at times. When I was in college in Maryland, I remember getting hit with rains that were so hard that you didn’t really need to use your windshield wipers (I still used them). The rain came down so hard and fast that it was almost like another layer of glass that you could see through. Heavy flooding would cause major puddles and driving over the hidden potholes were nerve wracking, but I enjoyed it. Not something I would want to do all the time, but for those moments when there was a massive rainfall, I found joy in the experience.
When I moved to Southern California, things definitely changed. I drove across country and when I arrived in Southern California, they were at more than 200 days without any real rainfall. I think they had broken a record at that time. So that was quite a shock to the system.
After I had started to get used to living in California, I was able to recognize the smell when rain was coming. It was something I never paid attention to in my time on the East Coast, but I finally started to recognize that there was something familiar about the scent. The first time I mentioned the coming rain to my co-workers, they snickered at me. They couldn’t smell anything and didn’t believe I could smell when the rain was coming. But…I was right. It did rain. And then there was another smell that came after the rain.
I remember going on walks/runs with one of my sisters in California and we would talk about the smell of rain coming and the smell after the rain falls. We both knew it was a thing, even if other people thought I was completely off base on this. And we both really enjoyed the aroma, even if it meant we were going to be rained on sometime during our runs.
When I moved back to the East Coast, I decided to drive across country again. When I drove across country the first time (from Maryland), I took a Southern route, leveraging the I-40. I drove through Oklahoma, Northern Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, so there were definitely some nice sites to see. When I drove from California back East, I decided to take the I-80, which took me through Utah and Colorado. I was fortunate to witness some incredible rains during that drive. Not only was the rain coming down hard for good portions of time, but there were some flashes of lightning that lit up the sky. I had a feeling of pure amazement as I could see those bolts of lightning in the sky some 2 miles ahead or 1 or 2 miles behind me. I might have had very different feelings if those bolts were a few feet away, but being able to see them from a distance was something that I can still picture in my head, four years later.
You can look things up on the internet pretty quickly now, so you can learn that the smell before rain is the aroma of ozone that is being picked up by the winds. And after the rain hits the ground, the scent is known as petrichor. I’m not a scientist, so I won’t go into the chemical and scientific meanings for these experiences.
Now that I’m living on the East Coast again, the smell of impending rain and the smell of rain falling on the ground is something that I gladly welcome to my senses again. Some people hate the rain. Some people tolerate the rain, but don’t really like it. Some people like the rain, but only from a distance. Some people absolutely love the rain and would sing and dance in the rain all the time if they had the chance. I appreciate the rain. Not just for what it does, but for what it means on a personal level. It reminds me of past conversations. It reminds me of past moments when I’ve had those same smells. It reminds me of some fun times driving I’ve had in the rain. It keeps me positive.
This morning I took a short drive to another place that I frequent, Kismet Cafe. I have always just gone there for a coffee drink, but today I decided to try one of their bagels as well. The last couple of times I went there, I noticed some of their cream cheese flavors, which is what made me decide to try them.
I’m not the biggest fan of bagels. I will get them every so often, but it’s not normally a food I crave. When I walked into Kismet Cafe this morning, I knew the coffee drink I would be getting: Pumpkin Spice Kismeccino Frozen Coffee. I perused the bagel options and one definitely stood out for me: Challah bagel. So I ordered that, toasted and then had to decide on the cream cheese. There were some good options, but it was ultimately between garlic herb and bacon horseradish scallion. I opted for the garlic herb today, but might try the other one in the future.
The Kismeccino was a good coffee drink. The flavor blend of the pumpkin was nice and the overall consistency was good, with just a little iciness to it. The bagel was really good. The outside had a nice crispness to it, and the inside was very light and not too chewy. It was not like the bagels that I’m used to eating. The garlic herb cream cheese was also really good. There was a definite flavor explosion, but it was not so overpowering that I couldn’t enjoy the bagel. I will get this cream cheese again, but I will also try the bacon horseradish scallion (if they have it).
I didn’t realize it until it was too late, but they have also started baking pumpkin bagels. I might try one of those in the near future. I already know which specialty cream cheese will be a great complement: honey walnut. So I’ll take a future trip here and know that the food will be worth it. I already knew the coffee drinks were worth the visit, but it’s good to know that I can enjoy their bagels as well.
Earlier in the week, I thought about a possible destination for Saturday, and I followed through with it. I took a scenic drive up to New Freedom, Pennsylvania. The drive was beautiful. I passed by some cows and some horses, which were so close that I would have been able to pet them if I was walking next to the road. I took the long way, so there were some parts of the trip where there was only 1 1/2 lanes, so I was fortunate that I was the only one on the road. There were also some spots of gorgeous scenery.
There was one part of the drive where the road was winding quite a bit, but then there was a curve to the right and it was the perfect visual spot. The road opened up a bit and there was a slight valley and then a low mountain full of trees. Seeing those trees along my sightline made my eyes happy. I was fortunate enough to drive through some small towns and very out of the way places.
My first destination was New Freedom, PA. I planned on going to the New Freedom Rail Trail Cafe. The last time I was there was about 2 1/2 years ago, when I was looking for houses (ended up getting one in Maryland, but there were some in Southern Pennsylvania that almost won me over). When I arrived at the cafe, there was a lot of hubbub going on. The town was setting up for their Fall Fest. I got there too early to stick around and see it, but I did go to the cafe.
I had wanted to get the Boxcar Tourist, but they had a special menu for Fall Fest, so I had to improvise. I’ve had the Boxcar Tourist before, and it was really good. It’s sausage gravy on biscuits with a fried egg. I ended up getting a pumpkin spice muffin and a hazelnut/chocolate coffee drink. The muffin was good. It was a bit heavier due to the pumpkin and had a slight spice flavor. I enjoyed it, but would have liked a little more nutmeg or cinnamon in there. The coffee drink was really good. I know I’ve been getting the pumpkin drinks everywhere, but I had a Nutella type coffee drink on my mind, so that’s what I went with. I ended up heading out after I was done, since I didn’t want to wait another hour or so for the Fall Fest to start. It looked like it was going to be pretty fun, though, just based on all the setup they were doing.
My next destination was The Markets at Shrewsbury. This is another Amish Farmer’s Market that is only open Thursday through Saturday, which is why this was on my agenda for today. This Farmer’s Market is huge. It looks bigger than the one in Annapolis. Although there are some similarities with the products, there are some distinct differences. I did enjoy visiting and plan on coming back again. I bought some items at the bakery, and will go back for more when the weather is cooler and the food that needs to stay cool will make the 1 hour drive back home.
I know that this picture isn’t clear, but I’m okay with that. It’s a huge building and I couldn’t capture everything at once. But I like how the sun is shining on top and the rays are coming down over the building.
These are some pictures from inside the building. The first one is just to show how deep this market goes. The other two are pictures I took at the bakery. I was tempted to buy some donuts, but was already full from the pumpkin muffin and had some other desserts in mind for purchase. There are a lot of vendors to choose from, which is why I plan on visiting again. Now, onto the bakery treats.
This first one is called Angel Food Flips. My pictures don’t do it justice, but it definitely tastes better than it looks. You’ve got the nice texture and consistency of the Angel Food cake in a taco shape, with what I believe is a whoopee pie filling on the inside and then drizzled with chocolate. This was something I haven’t seen before, so it was definitely worth the trip.
Next up is a Homemade Butter Cake. I’ve had Butter Cakes before, and they can be hit or miss. I’m not just saying this because they don’t have chocolate in them. 🙂 This Butter Cake was fantastic. The bottom layer was cooked perfectly and the top layer was a little gooey, but not so sticky that you couldn’t enjoy the bite. There was also a slight brown butter taste to it, which helped make it a more well rounded taste. Sweet, but not too sweet.
The last thing I got was a Chocolate Coffee Cake. They had several options for coffee cake, but I wanted to try this one. Sometimes a chocolate coffee cake can be too dry, especially on the chocolate layer. And when you have a huge amount of crumb topping like this one had, there is a tendency for the crumb to dry things out. This was not the case with this treat. The chocolate cake layer was moist. The crumb layer was nice and crisp on top, but it maintained it’s moisture underneath. I was able to bite through the entire coffee cake, instead of having to crunch through the top and have a crumb disintegration issue. Hopefully, you’ll understand what I’m trying to convey.
Today involved a lot of eating, but I’m okay with that. It was good food, good scenery, and good people. And as an added bonus for me, when I was driving up in the morning, “Always” by Atlantic Starr was playing. It’s been a while since I heard that song, so I was quite happy to sing along to it. And since it was a 1 1/2 lane road and I was the only one on it, it’s better that there was no one around to hear or see me while I was enjoying the music and enjoying the ride.
There are days when I get to just drive around, and I really enjoy them. I get to see places and scenery that not everyone else has a chance to see. I get to eat things and try things that others might not be able to experience. So I appreciate and enjoy these opportunities while I still have them. Stay positive!
Last night, I decided to try something new. I had some leftover canned chili from the day before (chili burgers for National Cheeseburger day). I decided that I wanted to bake it with some eggs and cheese in ramekins. I have had a set of ramekins for more than 10 years, but this is the first time I actually used any of them.
I set the oven to 350. I combined the chili, 2 eggs, milk (eyeballed about 2 tablespoons) and shredded cheddar cheese in a bowl. Once mixed, I buttered the ramekins and portioned out the mixture. I added some spicy sauce and gently mixed it in. I put it in the oven and baked it for 20 minutes. The center was jiggling a bit too much, so I put it in for another 5 minutes. The center had just a slight jiggle, so it was good to come out. I topped it off with a little sour cream. It turned out pretty good in terms of taste. The sauce added the perfect kick to it. The texture could have been a little better. I think that the next time I make something like this, I will whisk the eggs first, then whisk in the milk, and then combine the rest of the ingredients. I feel that it needed some more consistent fluffiness, and combining all the ingredients at once did not get me the desired result.
Now, onto the spicy sauce. I don’t know if this is still in production. It’s called Scotty B’s Ghostly Garlic sauce and is probably the best spicy sauce I’ve had. There is a nice kick due to the Ghost Peppers, but the flavor is what wins me over. It doesn’t burn the tongue or back of throat, so you are able to enjoy the combination of flavors of the garlic and the Ghost Peppers.
When I lived in California, I first encountered this at Whole Foods. My sister and I went on one of our long runs/walks (about 8 miles) and we stopped at Whole Foods for a food and coffee drink break. We got their breakfast pizza, which was really good, by the way. When looking for something to go with the pizza, I looked at the different sauces and this one stuck out. It only took a little bit of the sauce to enhance the flavor. My sister cannot stand spicy food at all, but even she would continue to eat this sauce.
I left California just over 4 years ago, and missed out on the sauce. One of my other sisters found these on-line a couple of Christmases ago, so I’ve been savoring them as long as I can before my supply runs out.
So I had some good food and some good memories last night. That makes for a positive experience. Missing things and people can bring on moments of sadness, but as long as I focus on the positive aspects, everything is all right. Stay positive and enjoy!
After enjoying a nice lunch, I decided to top it off with some ice cream. The temperature was in the upper 70s, so I thought it would be a nice and refreshing treat. I decided to go to Norwood Ice Cream in Sykesville, MD. This is a nice little store on Main Street. Downtown Sykesville really has a true old town feel to it and is what I enjoy about Small Town Living. There are plenty of ice cream options, and they also sell Wockenfuss chocolates, so you can get a sweet fix in a couple of different ways.
There were plenty of options, as you can hopefully see from the picture of the flavors. I tried the Pumpkin Spice (bonus flavor that wasn’t listed) and the Scout Mint. The pumpkin spice had a nice pumpkin flavor to it, but I was in the mood for some mint flavor. The Scout Mint had a nice creaminess to the ice cream. There were some tiny flecks of Thin Mint cookies, but every so often you would get a nice sized chunk of the cookie, which were the bites that I really enjoyed.
I had a bit of a bonus with the spoon. When I saw that it changed colors with the cold temperature, I had to smile,. I’m not sure why, since I don’t remember those being around when I was younger. But it was just one of those moments that made me feel young. I took the spoon home with me, by the way.
I liked this ice cream. I’ve enjoyed some of their other flavors as well. They make small batches in the store, which means there will almost always be something a little unique or different available. And it brings people like me coming back for more!
Smoky’s BBQ is another local place that I frequently visit. I went there today and decided to get the Pit Beef Sandwich with a side of Macaroni and Cheese. I added horseradish and barbecue sauce.
I enjoy all types of barbecue. When I came back to Maryland in 2015, it was the first time I really paid attention to Pit barbecue. It’s a big thing in the Baltimore area, which is probably the reason why I started noticing (I moved about 15 miles West of Baltimore). I’ve been to quite a few Pit barbecue places and will most likely be doing write ups of them at some point. Smoky’s BBQ is close to where I live now, which makes it easier to frequent. They have many different menu items that I’ve tried and enjoyed, so it will be fun to write about the different options. In the Pit barbecue places I’ve been, the meat is cooked over an open pit. With the beef, you have the option of doneness, which is nice. With ham and turkey, you get that nice smoky flavor with the meat.
As far as today’s meal, I decided to order the pit beef sandwich, medium rare, with horseradish and barbecue sauce. I went up to the counter, the asked me what I wanted and how I wanted the meat, and then took the meat off the pit and started slicing. This is a very fresh sandwich. The meat was cooked perfectly. The flavors of the meat and the toppings work perfectly for me. But the thing that makes this sandwich really enjoyable for me is the texture of the beef. I’ve had sliced beef before (pit beef, roast beef, or some variation) and it can be very tough and chewy. This was not the case with today’s sandwich. The meat was easy to bite through, so I didn’t have to pull huge chunks of meat in each bite, and I wasn’t hurting my teeth or jaw to actually chew through the meat. As far as the characteristics I would look for in a good pit beef sandwich, this sandwich met them all.
The macaroni and cheese was a nice side dish. Elbow macaroni with a cheese sauce that was the right consistency and amount. Sometimes you can get too much cheese sauce, where it’s just swimming. Sometimes you can get too little cheese sauce, where it is drier than it should be. Sometimes you can get a cheese sauce that has been cooked at too high a temperature and separated. There are things that can go wrong with macaroni and cheese, but that didn’t happen here. If I were to only order the macaroni and cheese, it would need something extra (tiger sauce, bbq meat, etc.), but as a side it worked well with the pit beef sandwich.
It was an overall pleasant experience and one that I look forward to duplicating again soon.
I decided to head over to Westminster this morning. The main goal was to visit Furnace Hills Coffee, but I also wanted to check out a place that I hadn’t visited before – Jeannie Bird Baking Company. I also had plans on going to the Downtown Westminster Farmer’s Market. I was able to visit all three, so I had a fun packed morning and was able to be on my way before the rain hit.
I started my morning at Jeannie Bird Baking Company. I had walked by it several times, but never took the time to step in. I read up on it and there were quite a few things about it that intrigued me. One thing that caught my eye was that they make their own English Muffins. I do enjoy a good English Muffin breakfast sandwich from time to time, so that was my main goal. When I got to the store, it was already pretty busy. I was waiting in line and could hear people behind me who knew some of the people in front of me. This was something that happened time and again, so it really had a nice, hometown type of feel to it. The employees seemed to know almost everyone as well, which added a comforting feeling to being there. I looked at all the different pastries and there were a few options that I was thinking about, but I wanted to stick with the breakfast sandwich. The English Muffins are not the same as what I’m used to from the grocery stores. They were a little smaller in diameter, but much thicker. So when I ate the sandwich, I was able to enjoy more of the muffin. I would normally order a meat as part of the sandwich, but I wanted to make sure I was able to taste the English Muffin, since meats sometimes become the primary flavor and minimize the other flavors in the muffin sandwiches. I was able to taste the English Muffin, and I enjoyed it. The outside was crispy, but the inside had that nice softness that you usually get. Since it was thicker than I am used to, I was able to really taste the bread and the enjoy the texture. By the time I was finished eating, the line was out the door. It is definitely a happening place. I will be going back, since they have so many other options that I plan on trying on future visits.
After I finished my breakfast, I walked over to Furnace Hills Coffee. They won’t be starting on the pumpkin drinks until October, so I decided to go with a Peanut Brittle blended coffee drink. The drink has caramel and peanut butter flavors. The first sip had a strong peanut brittle flavor, which was pretty neat. The consistency was good and the staff is great. Here is a not so great picture I took of their specialty drink menu.
I walked over to the Downtown Westminster Farmer’s Market while drinking my coffee drink. It was a small Farmer’s Market, but there were some good options there, which I will look into more the next time I visit there.
I bought two bags of coffee at Furnace Hills Coffee for my sister. One is called “Buddy Walk” and for every pound of coffee they sell, they donate $5 to the National Down Syndrome Society’s Buddy Walk. That is reason enough for me to get it, but the flavor of it is also good. I also got Erin’s Blend, named for their Chief Roaster.
Although my sister won’t get to enjoy these for a while, I will get to enjoy the aromas that are emanating from these bags. Even though I don’t enjoy straight coffee, but instead prefer the ice blended Frappuccino type drinks, I still like the smell of fresh coffee. Go figure on that one. I like and appreciate what Furnace Hills Coffee does. They not only make good coffee drinks and good roasted beans, but they do things for what I think is a good and honorable cause. You can’t get much better than that on a Saturday morning…